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2018 MLB Trade Deadline: Are the Baltimore Orioles going to be buyers or sellers?

With two huge trade chips in Manny Machado and Zach Britton, the answer is obvious.

MLB: New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

As we approach July 31, we will preview what each team is projected to do in advance of the non-waiver trade deadline. For a complete listing of our previews, click here.

Baltimore Orioles: 20-50, 5th in the AL East

When it comes to the trade deadline, there are clubs every year that are clear buyers or sellers.

The always conservative Orioles, headed by owner Peter Angelos, might be finally realizing that they are definitely going to be sellers this summer.

The Orioles have the worst record in the majors. Outside of having one of the best players in the game in shortstop Manny Machado, there is nothing exciting in Baltimore right now and for the near future. Their offense is bad, their pitching is awful and their defense is one of the worst in the league. In the minors, they are still ranked in the bottom of the league as well.

And if they ever want to compete with the Yankees and Red Sox in the AL East, their time to sell, get younger and get better is now.

What moves have they made so far?

Per the usual, the Orioles have not made any earth-shattering moves during the first two and a half months of the baseball season. They stuck with the roster they “assembled” in the offseason, filling it out with low-priced veterans like Andrew Cashner, Chris Tillman and Colby Rasmus in hopes they could somehow compete in the rugged AL East. Needless to say, the moves have not paid off, which is why the Orioles have to start rebuilding.

Who could they trade?

Luckily for them, the O’s have arguably the best trade chip in baseball with Machado, who has drawn a ton of interest over the last year.

Outside of a 259/.310/.471 slash line last year, the 25-year-old third baseman turned shortstop has hit over 30 home runs in each of the last three seasons and driven in over 90 runs in each of the last two campaigns. This year, the three-time All-Star is putting himself in the running for the AL MVP, slashing .306/.377/.574 with 18 homers and 50 RBI in 67 games.

There are a few catches with Machado. First, he is a free agent at the end of the season, so he will most likely be a rental for any team that tries to acquire him since he will want to try to become one of the highest — if not the highest — paid players in the game this winter. Second, he is playing on a one-year, $16 million deal, so contending teams — especially ones with big payrolls already like the Red Sox, Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs and Angels — may not be able to squeeze him into their payrolls because they are afraid his contract would push them over the luxury tax threshold and prevent them from resetting their offender status going into 2019. Third, Machado has stated in previous reports that he wants to remain a shortstop, which could affect his trade market because teams feel they need him at third base, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Fourth, the Orioles’ asking price for Machado is going to be high, as Rosenthal noted in a separate story that they may want a return similar to what the Yankees received when they dealt Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs in 2016.

Despite the few concerns, Machado’s suitors are quite lengthy, even more than last winter, Orioles GM Dan Duquette told Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. Among the candidates are the Phillies, Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs, Angels, Braves, Indians, Diamondbacks, White Sox and Cardinals. When it comes to the contenders, though, the chance at landing one of the games best players and him helping them win a World Series is worth the risk of acquiring him. And for the Orioles, the pressure to deal Machado will keep increasing and the return value on him will decrease as long as he is in a Baltimore uniform.

Besides Machado, the Orioles also have All-Star closer Zach Britton as a possible chip they can try to deal.

Britton is trying to put on a showcase from now until the deadline after he had missed most oft his season due to a torn Achilles that he suffered in December while working out. Britton, who was activated from the DL on June 11, will try to get back to playing like he did in 2016, when he led the majors with 47 saves, posted an eye-popping 0.54 ERA and finished fourth in the AL Cy Young voting. He also recorded an American League record 60 consecutive saves from Oct. 1, 2015 to Aug. 27, 2017.

For the struggling Orioles, they hope they can potentially get some nice pieces for him. After all, Britton’s durability and struggles in 2017 (1.0 WAR, 2.89 ERA, 1.53 WHIP in 38 appearances) are concerns that any contending team would have taking on a player that is making $12 million this year. But, like Machado, Britton would more than likely be a rental at this point because he is a free agent at season’s end. The good thing that will be in Britton’s favor is that contending teams are always looking for bullpen help. Among those teams who could use it are the defending champion Astros, Indians, Cubs, Dodgers and Nationals.

The Orioles may also look to deal outfielder Adam Jones and reliever Brad Bach as well.

Predictions

For the first time since 2000, Angelos and the O’s will sell off their big-named pieces in Machado and Britton.

Where Machado will land will be a mystery because of the line of suitors after him, though the Phillies are an ideal partner according to Heyman and you can never count out teams like the Red Sox, Dodgers and Yankees. However, the Orioles will get a package that will be beneficial to their future.

As for Britton, he will get dealt to the Astros, who had a deal in place with the O’s last year at the deadline before it was canceled for medical reasons. The two sides will figure out a package that will work this time.